Saturday, July 14, 2012
Irish D-line can lighten loss of Aaron Lynch
By Matt Fortuna
We're two days removed from Friday the 13th, and no bad news has come for Notre Dame.
That wasn't the case three months ago, when a hastily called news conference was set up the morning of April 13 to announce the decision of Aaron Lynch to transfer. The move wasn't without its drama — Lynch had been sent home days earlier, his mother pleaded on Twitter with former Irish lineman Justin Tuck to convince her son to stay — but when the dust cleared, Lynch was heading closer to home.
The Cape Coral, Fla., native will play for Irish alum Skip Holtz at South Florida, where he will look to build on a freshman All-America season that saw him start six games and lead the Irish in sacks (5.5) and quarterback hurries (14). He also had 33 tackles, including seven for a loss, and forced one fumble.
The 6-foot-6, 270-pound Lynch has first-round NFL talent, getting to the quarterback with ease and capable of making a game-changing play at any given moment. He was expected to key an Irish pass rush that would ease the burden of breaking in two new starters in the secondary.
But if one position group can handle a defection, it is the defensive line. Stephon Tuitt is more versatile and, possibly, more valuable than Lynch, able to play inside or out. Kapron Lewis-Moore is back for one more year and a proven starter, and Kona Schwenke emerged in the middle this spring, creating the potential for a very strong interior with him and Louis Nix splitting snaps. Lynch also picked up six penalties last season, mostly after the whistle, and he didn't exactly apologize for them when given the chance.
While the energy, athleticism and overall threat of Lynch on the field can't be replaced, the Irish do have plenty of talent that is capable of filling the void and still producing a strong pass rush this season.